Chronicle on the path to recovery
-- Chairman
Guyana Chronicle
November 1, 2003

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CHAIRMAN of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL) Mr. Hubert Rodney, yesterday indicated that despite the company making a loss in 2002, for the second year running, he is convinced the Guyana Chronicle and the Sunday Chronicle are on the path to recovery.

He said current Board of Directors, of which he is Chairman, has already outlined a number of 'cost-cutting' strategies which, if properly and timely implemented, will ensure success.

Some of these strategies entailed vigorous credit control and debt recovery and a committed effort to penetrate key and wide-ranging markets.

According to Rodney, there is "a clear vision to expend resources only in a manner that properly ensures success."

Speaking at the company's Annual General Meeting (AGM) which was held in the comfortable Blue Room of Woodbine Hotel, Georgetown, the Chairman indicated that it appears to him that those who purchase and read the Guyana (daily) and Sunday Chronicle newspapers hold GNNL accountable to correct certain social imbalances by reporting all the news, featuring articles on a variety of subjects and providing information that would otherwise not be presented in the public domain, at any cost. "Might I say that matching production cost to the price of a newspaper is the crux of the issue," he asserted.

On the issue of employment cost, Rodney pointed out that during 2002 the company's compliment of employees remained within the approved strength of 140, with an average monthly wage bill of $12.39M. He noted that based on those figures, employment cost comprised of 40% of unit cost. He also indicated that this high rate continued into 2003 with a slight decline to 39% per unit cost.

Rodney admitted the sentiment of both the 2002 Board and the 2003 Board is that the relation of cost of labour to cost of production must be lowered.

He also noted that under his Chairmanship, he and his colleagues embarked on "a vigorous programme of cost reduction". According to him this 2003 Board (of which he is Chairman) examined activities that responded favourably to cost control with the concentration being on excessive and unnecessary expenditure in areas such as newsprint, electricity and travel.

Rodney also noted that a new standby generator was purchased and installed at a cost of $6.2M to insure against blackouts and allow a constant flow of production from gathering the news through editing and layout to printing, on a daily basis.

He alluded to the slow down in business activities, not only locally but globally as well, which has created conditions whereby no corporation or company, irrespective of its scale of production or financial resources, can ignore. He termed this as "the reality of world-wide economic depression" and Guyana is no exception.

In this regard, he said GNNL must face the reality of being a marginal but insignificant supplier of printed news in the information and advertising media.

General manager of the GNNL, Mr. Compton Peters, noted that the company made a loss of $19.04M for the year ended 31 December 2002. When compared with the previous year, he said this performance was $14.17M adverse or 290%. According to him, decrease in revenue earned from advertising and circulation (newspaper sales), coupled with increases in expenses were the major contributory factors to an adverse performance being recorded for the year 2002.

Peters also stated that the company recorded an annual turnover of $380.37M in 2002 as against $422.98M in 2001.

He said, too, that during the year 2002 the company provided a total of 33 man-days of formal training in the area of human resource development. This training involved 17 members of staff at a total cost of $306,125. Areas of training that were covered included the Internet, income tax returns, journalism, accounting, globalization, communication in secretarial practice, sheet-fed printing, human resource management, computer network applications and computer science.

The company also continued its on-the-job training programme with emphasis being placed on printing, digital imaging, desktop publishing and offset press operation.